Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Back to the Future: My Message to Myself from When I Was 21

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to actually hear yourself speak way back when you were only 21 years old? For me, that would be 37 years ago.

As I cleared out a desk drawer in preparation to leave for Nigeria, I found a surprise. Here it is...
Cassette tape of my college valedictorian address
I must explain first that this address was at a Bible College and that I was valedictorian of a class of only 6 people! Nonetheless, I quickly began to look for a cassette player so that I could hear what was on my heart all those years ago. I remembered the no-longer-used cassette tape player in my 2003 CRV.

As I listened to it, tears streamed down from my eyes. It seems as if God knew I would find this speech almost four decades later and listen to it a matter of days before departing for Nigeria for full-time missionary work. As I face daunting challenges ahead, what better to find than my own voice reminding me of my call, of God's goodness, and of the seriousness of it all.

It is odd that even though I was so young when I wrote this speech, and even though so much of life has transpired, and even though I am about to go to a culture that is greatly unknown to me, the words of this speech touched me deeply, inspired me to carry on, and brought deep encouragement. I have to think that God knew that when He helped me write the speech the most important person listening to it would be me all these years later.

Here is an excerpt, the ending of the speech:
Here we raise our Ebeneezer. Hither by God's help we have come, and by His help we shall proceed. As we leave, Jesus will go with us. We have heard that Jesus is a Friend who is closer than a brother.
Our greatest ambitions are not for success or fame; we want only to do the will of the Father. Redeeming the time, walking worthy of our vocation, and making every day count, we shall endeavor to fulfill our divine commission: Go therefore and teach all nations to observe what I have commanded you.
We go forth without fear because we know that Jesus has all power in heaven and earth, and He has promised to be with us always--even to the end of the world.
We came here to learn more about God. We leave to tell others about God, that they, too, may know more about God. 
And now, going forth in the name of Him whom to know is life eternal, we the class of 1977, bid you farewell.
I think you can see how I can apply these words to my life today. May God help me to carry on...


  1. That is awesome Shelley! I'm so glad for you that you found that speech. You were a prophet for your own self then....and here is the evidence all these years later. God bless...I'm praying for you!

  2. Our Heavenly Father knows our needs! It's awesome that he led you to this speech. God bless you throughout your travels.